Highfield - Training and Training Materials

The UK and Middle East’s leading supplier of compliance, work-based learning and apprenticeship training materials.

Contact: 0845 2260350 / 01302 363277

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Helpline

If you would like to speak directly with a Highfield representative please call 0845 2260350.

The Highfield Story

Introduction

Highfield is the UK and Middle East's leading supplier of compliance qualifications, apprenticeships, training materials and e-learning. The company employs around 200 staff members, offers over 200 individual qualifications and each year its training materials are used by over 2,000,000 learners around the world. It also works with some of the world's most recognisable companies, including Marks and Spencer, Kraft Foods, John Lewis, Premier Foods and Emirates. In addition to this Highfield received the 2014 Chamber Best Large Business Award.

All of the above could not have been achieved were it not for its origins as a small family business, operating from the living room of a small 3-bedroom house.

Timeline

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The beginning

The Highfield story began in 1982 when food safety expert Richard Sprenger wrote Hygiene for Management and the Food Hygiene Handbook (both of which are now the world’s leading publication at their respective levels). These books proved so popular with food safety trainers that Richard, alongside his wife Jayne, decided to form a company named Highfield as a supplier of food safety training materials. This was a huge life-changing decision for the couple, which involved them re-mortgaging their house coupled with Jayne leaving her job in customer services at the National Westminster Bank.

Whilst Richard continued his local council job as Assistant Director of Environmental Health to help finance the start-up business, he wrote Highfield training materials in his spare time whilst Jayne managed the business. Jayne would take orders in the morning, pack in the afternoon, carry out sales and marketing in the evening and deal with administration and finance at the weekend, all whilst raising three children – Jason, Christian and Rebecca.

The foundations

Richard and Jayne shared an innate understanding of customer service, value and the training market, which helped the business flourish and has set the foundations for the business today.

An excellent example of this was shown in 1990 when Jayne received a phone call one Friday afternoon from a customer who had arrived in Spain to find that their books had not been delivered for their course. Jayne checked the records and the books had been sent, however no one at the venue could identify where they had been stored. The trainer was distraught as they did not want to let their customer down. Determined to resolve this issue to the customer’s satisfaction, Jayne immediately booked a flight to Spain, packed 15 books in a suitcase and hand-delivered them to the customer at the airport in Spain. This response resulted in the customer delivering a great course that received fantastic feedback, with no indication there had ever been a problem.

A family business

Sprenger baby tree

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It wasn’t long before Jason, Christian and Rebecca wanted to be involved in the business and as children all three would spend time packing deliveries and being involved in discussions ranging from branding to product development. Christian to this day recalls the times when the family were having dinner on an evening and the phone would ring, everybody would go silent whilst Jayne would answer the phone (always within three-rings) and provide fabulous service to a customer. Once the call was finished, family bedlam would commence.

Today Christian (who joined in 2002 following a successful career in retail management and marketing), now Managing Director, personally heads up the customer service committee and receives all customer service emails and comments. On the very rare occasion when our phone rings for a fourth time, Christian will often be the one who is first to pick it up. Rebecca, the youngest of Richard and Jayne’s children, has also recently joined Highfield having obtained an MSc in Environmental Health and having worked in the public and private sector.

Today there are eight family members in the business, and with ten grandchildren, this may well expand in the future.

Rapid expansion

In the 1990s the family made the decision to expand into other compliance areas and started to reinvest profit into development. This is still the company philosophy today and Highfield’s research and development team is proportionally far bigger than most competitors. In 1995 the company launched a health and safety range, followed in later years by fire, first aid, licensing and security. In 1999 Richard left his role as Director of Environmental Services at Doncaster Council to become Chairman of Highfield, with Jayne taking over the role of Customer Services Director. At this time Highfield operated from a room in a family home and books were stored in one side of an attached double garage. Soon after, the first two members of staff were employed by Highfield and the company went on to grow an average of 30 percent a year for the next eight years.

2000 was a landmark year for Highfield because the strategy of becoming a ‘one-stop-shop’ for corporate customers became reality when the company won its first contract with UK retail giant Marks and Spencer. Since this time the relationship has continued to grow and is still very strong today - something Highfield is very proud of.

Highfield has since built incredible relationships with many corporate clients including winning a contract with McDonalds to provide an innovative customised package for their 15,000 managers.

Bespoke Products

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HABC is formed

HABC logo

Highfield’s growth even remained strong during the UK recession, increasing dramatically with the launch of Highfield Awarding Body for Compliance (HABC). Due to the high standard of customer service provided by the company, customers were constantly asking Highfield to become an Awarding Organisation. After a great deal of research, a decision was made that this natural progression was viable and there was huge potential to make a significant difference within the industry. In 2007 Jason Sprenger (current Chief Executive of Highfield) left his position as a senior solicitor with international law firm Eversheds to drive the HABC application forward with regulatory body Ofqual. In 2008 HABC achieved Awarding Organisation status.

Since this approval, HABC has enjoyed exceptional growth and now sit in the top 10 Awarding Organisations in the country. HABC is also a market leader in security, first aid and management level food safety. In 2011 HABC entered the apprenticeship market and now have an excellent portfolio of qualifications and accompanying Apprenti-kits.

Apprenti-kits

International expansion

In 2010 the Government of Dubai suggested that Highfield open a branch in the UAE. A decision was made to do this, resulting in a Highfield office being opened in Healthcare City – the heart of Dubai - managed by Richard Sprenger. Highfield now has contracts in the UAE with the Civil Defence, Dubai Municipality, Dubai Ambulance Service, King Abdulla’s University of Science technology along with a number of world leading corporate companies and training centres.

M&S Products

Our passion is our customers

Highfield has come a long way since operating as a two person operation, from a desk in the living room. However, we have never forgotten our roots and are fully aware that we are nothing without our valued customer base. We thank you all for your loyalty and for trusting in us, and look forward to continuing our successful partnership with you for many years to come.

M&S Products